The Western campus viewed from the air looking out towards the islands and Bellingham bay

Spring 2021 Class Notes

Class Notes include professional accomplishments, awards, retirements, weddings, obituaries and other news about Western Washington University alumni; they’re gathered from published reports and communication from alumni themselves.

If you have an update you’d like us to share in Class Notes, please email it to window@wwu.edu. Tell us what’s new with you, and we’ll publish it in the next edition and online.

These are the class notes for this issue. See all class notes here.

Class Note

Marilyn L. Redmond - 1961

Marilyn L. Redmond (Music Education) recently published “Paradigm Busters, Reveal the Real You,” which is available on Amazon.

Karen Pottratz - 1970

Douglas, B.A., chemistry, and Karen Pottratz, BAE, history-social studies and special education, recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. They’re enjoying retirement: Karen spent 40 years teaching and coaching at Stevens Elementary in Spokane and Doug spent his career at Avista energy company.

Douglas Pottratz - 1970

Douglas, B.A., chemistry, and Karen Pottratz, BAE, history-social studies and special education, recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. They’re enjoying retirement: Karen spent 40 years teaching and coaching at Stevens Elementary in Spokane and Doug spent his career at Avista energy company.

Bert Glandon - 1970

Bert Glandon, B.A., communication studies, and ‘74, M.A., speech communication, has been president of the College of Western Idaho since 2009. He was recently honored by the Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce with the Hall of Fame Award.

Gary Benson - 1978

Gary Benson, B.S., design, published a children’s book about a little Fender guitar amp, “Tweedy, the Little Amp Who Found His Song.”

Patrick Caton - 1978

Patrick Caton, B.A. geography, retired after 41 years at the Department of Natural Resources in the Cartography Unit of the Engineering Division. He made land-use maps, soils maps, recreation maps and ownership maps, digitized land surveys, updated the transportation network on DNR forest land and completed other mapping projects. He and his wife enjoy living in Olympia.

Rick Eskil - 1979

Rick Eskil, B.A., journalism, recently retired from the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin after 41 years at the paper, including nine as a reporter and 32 as the editorial page editor.

Dominic Cvitanich - 1980

After 42 years in education in Washington and Idaho, Dominic Cvitanich, M.Ed., retired as superintendent of the Olympia School District. He recently wrote “Stardust and the Bitter Moon,” a novel available on Amazon Kindle.

Edward Inch - 1982

Edward Inch, B.A., speech communication, was recently appointed president of Minnesota State University, Mankato. Previously, he was provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at California State University, East Bay.

Sterling Sankey - 1985

Sterling Sankey, B.A., business administration, recently became head of Wealth Management at Union Bank.

Robin Robertson - 1986

Robin Robertson (Huxley College Student/Faculty Designed Major) is the owner and manager of Bellingham Tennis Club. Her recent book, “Healthy Knees Cycling: The Fun No-Impact Way to Reduce Joint Pain, Improve Strength and Help You Live an Active Lifestyle” is available on Amazon. 

Kim Williams - 1988

Kim Williams, BSN, announced she will retire this summer as CEO of Providence Health & Services for Northwest Washington, which includes Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett.

Barbara Szombatfalvy, - 1992

Barbara Szombatfalvy, BAE, history, is a partner in Woodmansee and Szombatfalvy, PLLC, a thriving family law firm in Durham, North Carolina.

Tod Sakai - 1994

Tod Sakai, B.A., economics, is president of Sockeye Homes based in Kent.

Fred Poyner IV - 1994

Arcadia Press’s “America Through Time” series includes the recent “Portland Public Sculptors: Monuments, Memorials and Statuary, 1900-2003” by Fred Poyner IV, B.A., art and art history.

David Peterson - 1995

David Peterson, B.A., political science, recently became general counsel for PAC Worldwide, a global packaging firm based in Seattle.

Orlondo Steinauer - 1996

Orlondo Steinauer (B.A., sociology) became the defensive coordinator for Fresno State University’s football team.

Dana Robinson Slote - 1997

Dana Robinson Slote, B.A., communication studies, is the director of communications for the Seattle City Council.

Rebecca Smith - 1998

Rebecca Smith, B.A., recreation, is the vice chair of the Coeur d’Alene Public Schools Board of Trustees and associate director of Lutherhaven Ministries Christian camps and retreat programs.

Brian Bender - 1998

Brian Bender, M.S., geography, recently became the city manager of Willits, California.

Scott Harrington - 1998

Scott Harrington, B.A., accounting, became the chief financial officer of Trovata, a cash management system.

Tommy Zurhellen - 1999

Tommy Zurhellen, M.A., English, is an associate professor of English at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York, where he teaches creative writing. Epigraph Books just published his latest, “The Low Road,” about Zurhellen’s 2019 walk across the country to raise awareness about suicide and homelessness among veterans. The VetZero project is selling a special edition of “The Low Road” to benefit veterans in Poughkeepsie, in partnership with Hudson River Housing.

Karl Horeis - 1999

Karl Horeis, B.A., journalism, is a teacher at the Montclair School of Academics and Enrichment in Denver and recently received the 2021 Grosvenor Teacher Fellowship with Lindblad Expeditions and the National Geographic Society. Once pandemic travel restrictions ease, Horeis looks forward to traveling with the other fellows on a scientific expedition to a remote location in order to enrich his students’ geographic awareness.

Kori Malone - 1999

Port Angeles Police Department Sgt. Kori Malone, B.A., psychology, recently became the leader of the department’s detective division.

Jason Moyer - 2001

Jason Moyer, B.A., history and ’03, MIT, is a history teacher at Sunnyside High School where he recently became the varsity boys head wrestling coach.

Andrew Root - 2001

Andrew Root, B.A., psychology, lives in Portland and works in community mental health. He‘s also a children's book author whose first book “Hamsters Don’t Fight Fires” was published by Harper Collins. His second, “Nerdycorn,” will be released in May by Simon and Schuster.

Javier Allen - 2003

Javier Allen, B.A., communication studies, the Arizona regional sales manager for OneAmerica’s Individual Life and Financial Services business, was recently honored by OneAmerica for Excellence in Partnership.

Garrett Grove - 2005

Photographer Garrett Grove, B.A., recreation, completed his MFA in 2017 at the University of Hartford. His first monograph, “Errors of Possession,” was published in 2019 by Trespasser Books. His photography was also included in a recent exhibition at Janet Borden Inc. gallery in New York City.

Tyson Romanick - 2005

Tyson Romanick, B.A., business administration, is a certified financial analyst and recently became an assistant vice president at Baker Boyer Bank, based in Walla Walla.

Peter Wayne Moe - 2005

Oregon State University Press just published “Touching This Leviathan” by Peter Wayne Moe, B.A., English literature. The creative non-fiction work draws on theology, natural history and literature in consideration of the whale. Moe is an assistant professor of English and oversees the writing program at Seattle Pacific University.

Kate Lebo - 2005

Farrar, Straus and Giroux recently published “The Book of Difficult Fruit: Arguments for the Tart, Tender, and Unruly (with recipes),” an essay collection by Kate Lebo, B.A., English creative writing.

Rena Priest - 2005

Gov. Jay Inslee recently appointed Rena Priest, ’05, B.A., English creative writing, as Washington’s Poet Laureate. During her term, Priest will present at public readings, workshops, lectures and presentations throughout the state to build awareness and appreciation of poetry. A member of the Lhaq’temish, or Lummi, Nation, Priest is the state’s first Indigenous poet laureate.

Amelia Cook - 2007

Goodwinds Composites, a Mount Vernon company co-owned by Amelia Cook, ’07, MBA, and her brother Leland Holeman, produced lightweight legs for Ingenuity, the tiny helicopter attached to the Perseverance Rover that recently landed on Mars. This photo of Ingenuity was taken April 7, 2021, by the Mastcam-Z imager, which was developed with the help of WWU Associate Professor of Geology Melissa Rice and her students.

Nick Gislason - 2007

Nick Gislason, B.S., chemistry, is head winemaker for Screaming Eagle, a luxury winery in the Napa Valley. He also brews slow-fermenting lager in very small batches at Hanabi Lager Co.

Stefan Kalb - 2007

Stefan Kalb, B.A., economics, is co-founder and CEO of Shelf Engine, a tech platform used by grocery stores to streamline their ordering processes and cut waste. The company works with 2,000 grocery stores around the country and saw revenue increase 15 times last year.

Rob Camandona - 2009

Rob Camandona, B.A., philosophy, recently became a vice president and commercial banking officer for the Bellingham Commercial Banking Group at Peoples Bank.

Jennifer Spoelstra - 2009

Jennifer Spoelstra, B.S., community health, recently became a mortgage loan representative at Peoples Bank in Ferndale.

Blair Wyman - 2010

Blair Wyman, B.A., management, recently became a sales engineer at ACI Mechanical and HVAC Sales.

Tiffany Blair - 2011

Tiffany Blair, B.A., international business, recently became the vice president retail branch manager of the downtown Bellingham Peoples Bank. She also serves on the board of Habitat for Humanity Whatcom County.

Kathlyn Kinney - 2011

Kathlyn Kinney, B.S., environmental science, has her own business in Spokane, Biomethane LLC, which provides information to municipalities on renewable natural gas systems.

Derek Jones - 2012

After serving for 10 years with WWU Police, Derek Jones, B.A., general studies, joined the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office as the neighborhood deputy for Birch Bay.

Will Nelson - 2012

Will Nelson, principal’s certificate and ’18, initial superintendent certificate, was selected as the superintendent of the La Conner School District. Previously, he was director of equity and student success at Arlington Public Schools.

Hannah Moore - 2012

Hannah Moore, B.A., design and English-creative writing, recently illustrated a children’s book, “The Fun We Had in Quarantine,” written by Lacy J. Heinz and published by Archway Publishing.

Chad Stoddard - 2012

Chad Stoddard, B.A., geography – environmental & resource management, raced the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in March, and was the top first-time finisher.

Jenny Blenk - 2012

Jenny Blenk, B.A., English literature and Spanish, recently became associate editor of Dark Horse Comics, where she began as an intern in 2017. Blenk has worked on several well-known series, including Critical Role, Avatar: The Last Airbender, The Legend of Korra and Mike Mignola’s Hellboy Universe.

Kelsey Rowlson - 2014

Kelsey Rowlson, B.A., communication, recently became community relations coordinator for Highgate Senior Living.

Brittany Goris - 2014

Brittany Goris, B.A., recreation and Spanish, is an elite rock climber who recently completed the grueling East Coast Fist Bump 5.14a with traditional gear in Sedona, Arizona.

Lt. Trevor Torres - 2014

U.S. Navy Lt. Trevor Torres, B.S., manufacturing engineering technology is a supply officer at Naval Submarine Base New London in Groton, Connecticut, where he is on a taskforce supporting the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s response to COVID-19 in the southeastern U.S. Lt. Torres is helping organize vaccination site operations in Jacksonville, Florida.

Megan Carter - 2015

Megan Carter, B.A., recreation, recently became the outdoor recreation supervisor for Mountain Recreation in Vail, Colorado.

Kalia Castro - 2016

Kalia Castro, B.S., sports psychology, is a program assistant at the Lake Washington Institute of Technology and was recently featured in a Seattle Times story, “6 of the hottest creators from the Seattle area.”

Tara Babcock - 2018

Tara Babcock, B.S., kinesiology – movement studies, recently joined the faculty at Sunnyside High School as an athletic trainer and sports medicine teacher. She just completed her master’s degree in athletic training from Montana State University Billings.

Leah Sauter - 2018

Leah Sauter, B.A., history, was recently featured on the history podcast “American Girls,” which explores historical themes inspired by the stories of the popular dolls. Sauter shared her research on Holocaust history in a discussion of what American Girl “Molly McIntire” would have known about the Holocaust.

Mikayla Monroe - 2019

After several summer internships with OceanGate in Everett, Mikayla Monroe, B.A., management information systems, recently joined the underwater exploration company as a data analyst and relationship manager and is training to be a submersible pilot.

Kamiah Koch - 2019

Kamiah Koch (Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde), B.A., journalism and communication studies, covers tribal events, government programs and council elections for Smoke Signals, the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde’s independent tribal newspaper. She was also recently selected to participate in a reporting partnership with NPR’s Next Generation Radio Project and the Native American Journalists Association.

Drew Wilkens - 2020

Drew Wilkens, B.A., business administration – management, recently became a senior vice president and leader of the newly formed mortgage department at SaviBank.

Joanna O'Neill - 2020

Joanna O’Neill, B.S., behavioral neuroscience, works at Los Alamos National Laboratory as an explosives technician and is a content creator for the Los Alamos STEAM Lab.